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May 16, 2001 - May 16, 2001

HONOUR CUT OFF DATE: CM TO NGOS Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Ahmedabad, May 15: Chief minister Keshubhai Patel announced that the cut-off date for the NGOs to participate in reconstruction and start their project work is May 20. He said that the state government will start payment of assistance to the affected people under Package 2, if the voluntary organisations did not honour the cut-off date.

Mr Patel said that the one-room livable accommodation would be readied by June 30. He added that necessary instructions are given to the district collector to release the instalment of assistance for work completed up to the plinth level.

The chief minister underlined the need for the participation and active cooperation of the voluntary organisations in the village reconstruction. He added that the gram sabhas, which were not inclined to accept the proposals of village rehabilitation by institutions, could ask institutional help in providing infrastructural facilities like roads and electricity.

He said that the state government has sanctioned Rs 1,400 crore for drinking water pipeline project and that the arrival of Narmada will accelerate Kutch’s development. Mr Patel said that necessary orders for re-surveying in cases where complaints were received about assessment of damages to the houses have been dispatched.

“To maintain the tempo of the reconstruction campaign, the supply of construction material and water is ensured,” he added. Mr Patel made it clear that unauthorised construction would not be permitted on any government land except in fixed and places in four cities. In a two-day tour, Mr Patel visited Raidhanpur, Dhaneti, Sugaria, Duhai and Ambardi.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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JEEP RAMS INTO SCOOTERS, CAR Wednesday, May 16, 2001

An accident occurred at Mithakhali six roads when an Armada driver hit two scooters, one Maruti car and one larri walla at 1.30 pm on Tuesday.

Four people were injured, including two severely, when the Armada driver Ramesh H Dave, hit a scooterist and dragged him to almost 50 yards with the vehicle.

Panicking after the accident the driver tried to get away, and collided with a scooterist, a Maruti and a larriwalla, who was selling peanuts on the roadside. The larriwalla, Jagdish G Prajapati, has lodged a complaint against the driver for rash driving.

The injured were admitted to various hospitals. The driver of the Armada was arrested and taken into custody by the Navranpura police.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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‘BLACK BEAUTY’ MAY BE IN VOGUE AGAIN Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Vadodara, May 15: It was a nostalgic moment for many as the Black Beauty — the steam locomotive — took a trial run on the narrow gauge line between Vadodara-Dabhoi-Vadodara on Tuesday in the Vadodara division of the Western Railway.

Manufactured in 1952 in London, the narrow gauge steam locomotive ZB-66 had taken its last service trip between Ankleshwar and Rajpardi on March 9, 1994. In the interim period, the locomotive was maintained at the shed in Dabhoi. Having run on 33,959 trips in a span of four decades, its last periodic overhaul was carried out on September 25, 1990.

In 1995, for a week, the locomotive pulled an old inspection carried Number RA-6 to coincide with the Railway Week celebrations. Divisional Railway Manager B. B. Moudgil told The Asian Age that the division would begin a market survey to assess the needs of the people.

Depending upon the response, the locomotive will be run once a week to Ajwa. Mr Moudgil said that it all depends on how much the masses will pay for such journeys. He further said that although authorities have not taken any final decision but initial plans were to send one of the two steam locomotives to Shimla.

The steam locomotive has been restarted with a view to run it in limited time and limited area. Sources say that it requires four tons of coal to run 100 km. The locomotive has an interesting history.

It was imported from London and it served the needs of public in the erstwhile Gaekwad Baroda State Railways. During the reign of Gaekwads, steam engines were at their peak of popularity and there were about 40 locomotives. However, as the surface transport developed, the locomotives died their natural death.

Although the steam locomotive has been restarted, sources say, that as compared to diesel engines these are not economically viable. Senior Divisional Mechanical Engineer K. Narayan, who led the restarting operation, said that a team of mechanics from Vadodara, Karachia, Rajkot and other places put the locomotive on the tracks after efforts of 40 days.

An estimated Rs. 70,000 have been spent for changing smoke and fuel tubes. It is believed that the effort to revive a steam locomotive that has been non-functional for long is one of the few instances in the country. Tuesday’s trial run was not totally successful.

After it went to Dabhoi at a speed of about 25-30 kilometer per hour carrying about five carriages. On its return journey it had to be pulled up by a diesel engine for some time. The minor faults are expected to be rectified soon.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Gandhinagar, May 15: After much speculation about the future of the beleaguered Madhavpura Mercantile Cooperative Bank, the committee constituted to look into its revival has worked out a Rs 700-crore plan.

As per plan, all state cooperative banks will need to contribute to the extent of four per cent of their deposits for the purpose of revival while a request will be made to get the rest of the monies from the National Deposit Insurance Guarantee Corporation.

A counter guarantee will be sought from the Centre and the Central Registrar against the money contributed by the banks. Mr Vora said the revival committee report will be sent to the RBI for seeking funds from the Deposit Insurance Guarantee Corporation and thereafter a delegation led by state finance minister will represent at the Centre for approval of the plan.

A report of the revival committee is expected to be ready in a couple of days, which will be presented to the RBI and then sent to the state government for its approval. The revival plan was worked out at a meeting of the MMCB revival committee chaired by minister of state for cooperatives Raman Vora and attended by chairman of the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Jairam Patel, Hiralal Bhagwati, chairman of the City and District Urban Cooperative Banks Association Natu Patel, vice-chairman of the Gujarat Urban Banks Federation, representative of the National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks D. Krishnan and chairman of the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank Amit Shah.

The meeting was also attended by office-bearers of the scheduled cooperative banks of the state. Chairman of the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank Amit Shah told reporters here that all deposits of MMCB depositors will be disbursed with interest once the bank commences business again.

“A total of Rs 1,000 crores will be required to revive the MMCB,” Mr Shah said. He said a total of 16,000 crores worth of deposits are lying with various state cooperative banks and four per cent of the deposits come to around Rs 1,200 crores.

“However, with several cooperative banks not in a position to contribute and with others whose monies have been blocked, the state cooperative banks are expected to bring in only Rs 700 crores,” Mr Shah said.

Mr Shah said while the state cooperative banks will contribute Rs 400 crores, district banks have shown their readiness to contribute Rs 200 crores and the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank itself has agreed to pump in Rs 100 crores.

The Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank chairman said the National Depositors Insurance Corporation will be requested to release Rs 400 crores for the revival. “We expect to collect Rs 1,100 crores in this manner to save the bank and then get a new board that will also comprise government officials,” Mr Shah said.

Mr Shah said a guarantee for the monies contributed by the cooperative banks will be sought from the Centre and we expect that the Central Registrar and the Centre will give a guarantee.

When asked about other options in case the Centre refuses to give the guarantee, Mr Shah said, “In that case, we will consider other options or may ask the state government to give us a guarantee for the monies invested to prop up the bank.” “I am positive that the RBI will consider the proposal for releasing the monies from the insurance corporation in the interest of the bank and the depositors,” Mr Shah said.

News Source : The AsianAge Ahmedabad Edition [ The coolest Newspaper for city ]

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Conservation of Udvada Wednesday, May 16, 2001

Udvada to be put on world heritage map

By Shabnam Minwalla

MUMBAI: Exploring the narrow lanes of Udvada in the
afternoon haze, strangers might well wonder if the rattling
contraption which ferried them into town was an
autorickshaw or a time machine. This pastoral enclave,
dotted with storybook cottages, slumbering goats and
white-washed wells seems separated by many decades
from the concrete-and-cacophony hell of nearby Vapi.

But one wrong turn and the fantasy melts into a puddle
of sweat and disappointment. For, amidst the porched
houses--with their planter's chairs, chalked fish and
portraits of obscure English royals-- loom sudden
MHADA-inspired monstrosities. The forces of change,
which had long disregarded this coastal town, have
suddenly rolled in with an army of bulldozers and

``The last few years have seen demolition and insensitive
redevelopment,'' says Pankaj Joshi, a conservation
architect with the Rizvi College of Architecture
Consultancy Cell. ``Udvada is distinct from other
Gujarat towns because it has a sizable group of old Parsi
structures, and about half are still intact. We must act
when there is still something left to save.''

Determined to protect Faredoon Cottage and
Sodawaterwala Dharamshala from death by RCC, a
group of eight architects are working on a conservation
and management plan for this ``relatively complete
pre-industrial vernacular settlement''.

``The final aim is to get the Parsi and Koli area listed as a
protected precinct and to work towards World Heritage
Site status,'' says Mr Joshi, pointing out that the town is a
Mecca for Zoroastrians. ``The fire in the Iranshah Atash
Behram has been burning for over 1,250 years. Besides
being the most important centre for Parsis the world
over, Udvada is part of India's heritage.'' Concurs his
colleague Sachin Narkar, ``Architecturally, it may not be
comparable to the Parthenon. But cultural and
sociological factors make Udvada truly special.''

The sequence of events which transformed this
unassuming hamlet--once a grazing ground for camels or
uth vada--into a centre of prayer started when the
Sassanian rulers of Persia were defeated by Arab
invaders in the 7th century. Some years later, a group of
2,000 Zoroastrians set sail for India to escape religious
oppression. During their long quest for a new home--in
the leg between Diu and Sanjan--a storm broke out and
the terrified refugees pledged to establish a fire temple of
the highest order upon touching ground.

In 721 AD, high priest Nairyosang Dhaval consecrated a
fire in Sanjan which was known as the Iranshah-- the
spiritual king of the Parsis in India. ``This was created
from 16 different fires--for example, fire from a burning
corpse, a shepherd's house, a goldsmith, a potter's kiln
and lightning,'' explains Jamshed Bhiwandiwala, a faculty
member at Rizvi College. ``Instead of waiting for natural
fire to be caused by lightning, Ervad Dhaval meditated
for days and, when lightning finally struck, he captured
the fire directly.''

Sanjan remained the hub of the Parsi community in India
until a Muslim invasion, 700 years later, prompted the
priests to carry the Iranshah to the remote Bahrot hills.
The sacred fire was brought to Navsari in 1419, but
territorial tussles among the priests forced another
relocation in 1742. ``The priests stopped in Udvada on
their way to Sanjan,'' says Peshotan Mirza, the son of
one of the two Udvada head priests. ``Somehow, they
remained there.''

Intrigued by the manner in which the town's life revolves
around the Iranshah, the students of Rizvi College of
Architecture documented Udvada for a convention in
1997. ``We were reluctant to waste that effort,'' says Mr
Narkar. ``So, last year, we approached the D.M.
Jeejibhoy Trust and took the project forward.''

This involved setting up a studio in Udvada, peering into
Makujina House and Unwala Library, swapping `saibjis'
with Mehli Uncle and Shirin Mai and absorbing the
tempo of the town. ``The houses reflect the customs
wonderfully,'' says Mr Bhiwandiwala, pointing out that
although the atash behram is a monumental structure, the
priests' houses huddle protectively to camouflage it.
``Most have double `otlas'--the outer one for bargaining
with vegetable vendors and the inner one for praying.
Little gullies running behind the houses were once used
for nightsoil collection. The same back entrance is used
by menstruating women, who are restricted to a room in
the rear.''

Udvada, the architects found, also provides pointers for
urban planning. ``The houses are more suited to our
climate than most contemporary constructions,'' says Mr
Joshi, adding that another remarkable feature is the string
of 300 sweet-water wells. ``Until recently, salinity was
never a problem, although they are just 100 metres from
the sea.''

Creeping salinity is, however, just one of many changes.
``Of the 250 old Parsi dwellings, 18 have been
demolished, while almost 50 have been redeveloped in a
disharmonious fashion,'' says Mr Joshi, pointing out that
tiled roofs and timber beams are rapidly giving way to
asbestos and RCC. ``As youngsters move away from
Udvada, the older people find it difficult to maintain the

Today, just about 100 Parsis remain in Udvada. But
many newcomers are choosing its tranquillity over the
bustle of Vapi and Daman. In order to protect Udvada
from unwitting destruction by new residents, a
Conservation Cell has been proposed. ``This will
regulate development, repairs and alteration,'' says Mr
Joshi. ``Although we have run out of funds at the
moment, we hope to write a simple conservation manual
and establish a small building yard to help residents with

But victory will really be achieved if UNESCO
designates Udvada a World Heritage Site--a
development which could boost tourism and, perhaps,
persuade more youngsters to stay on. ``There could be a
small museum and walking tours,'' says Mr
Bhiwandiwala, building bed-and-breakfasts in the air.
``But there is a long road ahead. Usually, Parsis drive in,
visit the fire temple and drive out. Unless they act
immediately, the physical fabric of Udvada will vanish.
And with that will go a unique way of life.''

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